17:18 Friday, Oct. 2, AD 2020 GMT
According to the University of East Anglia’s School of Environmental Sciences, “CO2 emitted during fires is normally sequestered again as vegetation regrows, and researchers generally consider wildfires to be carbon neutral events once full biomass recovery has occurred” (2019 Science Daily article). I am not a scientist. I don’t have a four-year degree. I argue nonetheless that it’s a deceptive statement.
First, some of the forest and wilderness ecosystems that burned were hundreds of years old. People could plant faster-growing seedlings that would grow into new forests in maybe seventy years, if governments prevented and suppressed fires in them—work that governments are presently not doing. If you want to replicate what was destroyed—old growth—that would require native seedlings and 200 years of growth and fire prevention and suppression. Alarmist climate scientists insist that we have only, what is it now, ten years until a climate apocalypse? If that were true, then we would not have time for new forests that we would like to grow and be as beautiful and valuable as the former ones. We’re talking about beautiful, marketable, majestic fir, Doug Fir, pine, cedar, hemlock and sequoia ecosystems, not kudzu infestations.
Second, it’s deceptive because it is carbon-minded, not heat-minded.
One of the main goals of climate science is to figure out what causes climate change, particularly Biosphere warming. Conventional climate scientists reduce that entire endeavor to a study of the effect on the climate of greenhouse gases (GHG, such as CO2 and H2O) in the atmosphere. Aside from Solar radiation, carbon-minded climate scientists do not consider anything else that can heat up the Biosphere. That is gross negligence, because there are two ways to cause Biosphere warming:
1) Turn the atmosphere into a better insulator by increasing atmospheric GHG. This is the only way that carbon-minded climate scientists presently think about.
2) Heat the Biosphere faster than the atmosphere can transmit heat out to space via convection and radiation. Carbon-minded scientists mostly ignore this; when they want to, they consider the atmospheric part. But they ignore sensible heating: heat that volcanoes (both undersea and above the sea) and undersea volcanic vents produce, heat that forest, peat and agricultural fires produce and heat that the burning of biomass and fossil fuels for energy produces. All of those sources of sensible heat contribute to Biosphere warming, but carbon-minded climate scientists do not even consider them, when calculating Earth’s thermal balance.
You have to remember, the entire Earth below the Lithosphere is molten; Earth’s core is approx. 10,000° F. Only the Lithosphere is cool enough to be solid. And the Lithosphere is only 70 to 100 km thick. If this were a horizontal distance, you could drive it in one hour. Beneath the Lithosphere is molten rock and metal extending another 6271 km down to the center. Earth’s crust is even thinner: 32 km (according to sciencefacts.net). Only about
(4π/3) * 63713 − (4π/3) * 62713 = 50,210,023,509 km3 of Earth’s volume is non-molten.
(4π/3) * 62713 = 1,083,206,916,850 km3 of Earth’s volume is molten.
Only about 4.64% percent of Earth’s volume is non-molten.
That is where we live. And you are telling me that only Solar radiation warms the Biosphere?
Carbon-minded climate scientists also neglect heat from fires.
According to Sam Foote, P.Eng., retired, burning one pound of wood produces between 6000 and 8000 BTU. How many pounds of wood have been burned so far this year, and how many BTU produced, by the 7,672,398 acres of U.S. wildfires? How about wildfires and peat and agricultural fires worldwide?
Climate scientists need to calculate those numbers of BTU, even if only roughly, and account for them when calculating Earth’s thermal balance. They aren’t, because most of them are carbon-minded, not heat-minded; it is as if they have forgotten the whole reason for the existence of climate science.
Related to the above is an oversight: climate science could be practical, but, for all the money that we send its way, it is still only theoretical. We still do not, that I know of, have an ongoing experiment that would quantify the transparency of the atmosphere to outbound IR, that is, the extent to which the atmosphere permits surface heat to radiate out to space. Theorists say things like, “We must keep GHG to such-and-such level, or the Biosphere will warm, the ice caps will melt and coastal cities will flood.” But do they really know that their theorem is dependable?
I think not. In addition to accounting for sensible heating of the Biosphere, we need experiments that would measure the atmosphere’s transparency to outbound IR.
For instance, we could place, in geosynchronous orbit, a satellite carrying a sensitive, cryogenically cooled, infrared detector, whose active surface area and efficiency we knew precisely. At the same time, we would build an installation in a desert on Earth where there is usually no cloud cover. There we would build a large, flat, steel stove, parallel to the ground, with a precisely-known surface area—a black body. We would evenly apply to it a known and sufficiently large amount of heat at night, after it had cooled from the heat of the day. The IR detector would continuously measure IR that would make it through the atmosphere by radiation from the black body, as we heated it, and as it cooled. Heat would radiate from it in all directions. However, we would know exactly how much heat we applied, and exactly how far away the satellite and detector were. We could calculate, using an inverse square equation, exactly how much heat the satellite’s detector would detect, and exactly what the warming and cooling curve would look like, if the Earth had no atmosphere. The amount actually detected, and also the actual warming-cooling curve, would be less and lower, because the atmosphere would absorb some of the heat, and divert some by convection and advection. Those differences would give us usable data on what part of the surface heat the atmosphere permits to radiate out to space.
Those data would vary somewhat, depending on transient factors, such as air mass and water vapor over the site, air temperature, wind and changes in convection and advection. We might have to shade the black body during the day to keep it cool. But over time, with many runs, we would compensate for transients, and obtain a very good technical understanding of the transparency of the atmosphere to outbound IR, as well as any change in its transparency, and any trend in the change.
Some might object that such an experiment would be a waste, because scientists have stacks of data on how much heat from extraterrestrial sources makes it through our atmosphere to Earth’s surface. But they do not have much data on heat trying to go the opposite way, from the surface to space. They apparently assume that it’s the same going the opposite way. I disagree.
I think it’s not the same, because we spread reflective particles in the atmosphere, in an attempt to deflect some of the Sun’s radiation, and keep the Biosphere from heating. I call this the glittersphere. The generality of atmosphere scientists ignore the extent to which the glittersphere might not work as intended: the same glitter also reflects some of the heat that is trying to escape the atmosphere back into the atmosphere.
From the Sun’s point of view, Earth’s glittersphere is convex. If a photon of Sunlight hits a piece of glitter in the Stratosphere, there is a good chance that the glitter would deflect it away from the Biosphere, just as intended.
From the Biosphere’s point of view, Earth’s glittersphere is concave. If a photon of IR from Earth hits a piece of glitter in the Stratosphere, there is a good chance that the glitter would deflect it sideways or downward. In either case, the IR would probably be absorbed by, and remain in, the atmosphere. Glitter is heavier than air. It would rise and fall with convection currents, but if it did not get caught in a jet stream, it would gradually tend to descend, and the lower it descended, the greater the probability that any IR that met it would remain in the atmosphere.
Also, an energetic photon from the Sun hitting a piece of glitter would increase the KE of the piece of glitter, even if it successfully deflected the photon. This increased KE would become heat, as the glitter collided with air molecules, or with another piece of glitter.
The net effect of the glittersphere, then, might be to inhibit the escape of more IR than it prevents from entering. And its unexpected effect might be to generate unwanted heat from KE as it deflects incoming photons. Of course, we would not know for sure whether or not those are its effects, because we do not measure IR escape flux, only its entry flux. One thing that my experiment would do is help determine whether or not the glittersphere is working as intended.
A technical, data-based understanding of atmospheric transparency to heat is crucial to climate science, because, for all the heat and radiation sources that warm Earth’s surface, it cools only through the atmosphere.
For instance, what if the present working theorem isn’t quite correct? GHG could increase, and the atmosphere could still permit heat to radiate out to space at the same rate, not a reduced one. If that were the case, and if the Biosphere then warmed, it would not be because GHG increased, but because of sensible heating. Maybe heat from volcanism, both undersea and on land, and from undersea venting, added to heat from the Sun, was more than the atmosphere could transmit to space. Maybe heat from forest, peat and agricultural fires, added to heat from the Sun, was more than the atmosphere could transmit. Maybe Solar irradiance increased and caused the Biosphere to heat up faster than the atmosphere could transmit. These would all increase sensible heat in the Biosphere. But GHG-minded climate scientists would say, “Yep. No question about it: the increase in Anthropogenic GHG caused the Biosphere to warm. Our GHG theorem tells us so!”
It may be tenuously argued that, given enough time, which alarmist climate scientists say we do not have, wildfires and agricultural fires are carbon-neutral. However, because fires produce so much heat, it cannot correctly be argued that they are heat-neutral or climate-neutral. The atmosphere has to deal with all the excess, sensible heat from fires, and from all sources of sensible heat. The questions are, does it?, and if not, are climate scientists wrongly attributing Biosphere warming to increased GHG, instead of increased sensible heat?
Another problem with carbon-minded climate science is that it assumes that all of the increase in atmospheric GHG is Anthropogenic. But they don’t really know where the increase comes from. GHG’s do not carry signs saying, “I came from an exhaust stack on a Peterbuilt”, or “I came from an Aleutian volcano”, or “I came from an undersea methane hydrate off the coast of Mexico.”
Some recent articles have noted that worldwide COVID shutdowns are not slowing the increase in atmospheric CO2
That suggests that maybe CO2 is increasing naturally, and that maybe, CO2 from fires is contributing to the increase; maybe fires are not really carbon-neutral, at least not for many years.
National Geographic published a piece about GHG sequestered on and under ocean floors as hydrates. If seawater temps were to increase significantly, maybe because of increased volcanic activity, some of these hydrates would melt, or phase change to gas, and significant tonnages of natural GHG would make their way to the atmosphere. I like that article because it reminds us that nature produces large amounts of GHG.